Web Series: Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo
Cast: Dimple Kapadia, Radhika Madan, Angira Dhar, Isha Talwar, Naseerudin Shah, Ashish Verma, Varun Mitra, Udit Arora, Deepak Dobriyal, Jimit Trivedi, Monica Dogra
Director: Homi Adajania
Rating: 3 Moons
In an episode of Homi Adajania's thriller titled Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, a male character says, "Inko humare zarurat nahi," with regard to the four badass women who rule the family and live their lives on their own terms. Fair enough because when Dimple Kapadia is in her action mode, there's nothing more wonderful than that sight. Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is an eight-episode series on Disney+ Hotstar that revolves around a family in Kutch headed by matriarch Rani Ba (Dimple Kapadia). Under the name of her company, Rani Cooperative, she is behind the supply and distribution of a unique variant of cocaine called Flamingo. With the help of her daughters-in-law Bijli (Isha Talwar)-Kajal (Angira Dhar), daughter Shanta (Radhika Madan) and adopted son Dheeman (Udit Arora), she establishes an empire worth crores.
To be watching Dimple Kapadia in her top form yet again is a delight. The story of Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo allows her to rule the screen with her powerful presence. With 8 episodes of almost 50 minutes each, the show doesn't stop itself from exploring Rani Ba's backstory and her journey to become the drug lord of the region. It is a complete diversion from what typical Indian saas bahu shows have often shown to the audience. Here, Rani Ba and her daughter and daughters-in-law are in the driver's seat.
An element of humour runs throughout the show with the character of Harish (Ashish Verma) and his brother Kapil (Varun Mitra) who come to India from the US to meet their mother, Rani Ba, and are naturally sucked into the family game of power and possession. Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is an ambitious series that promises to be thoroughly entertaining and it does achieve that in the initial episodes. There's violence, drama, and the message of woman empowerment along with a sentiment of entitlement too.
Towards the end of the first episode of Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, the makers set the tone right by giving a badass and stunning action sequence where Rani Ba, Bijli, Kajal and Shanta fight off a tribal community to protect their identity. The sleek action moves are peppered with tension and urgency making it a gorgeous visual masterpiece. Homi doesn't attempt to throw feminism in the face of the audience. It is rather subtle, natural and inclusive in the narrative.
Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is a refreshing and addictive watch even when the premise seems familiar. The rustic setting, impeccable casting and make-believe plotting add to the show's merit. The characters are not weak; in fact, they are fierce, independent, and quick-witted while sharing a cat-and-mouse relationship. The aloofness between Bijli-Harish and Kajal-Kapil can be sensed and how that changes their dynamics is worth noticing. Every episode of the show ends with a cliffhanger and it is binge-worthy for the sheer curiosity to know what's in store for the family. The changing equations within the four walls of Rani Ba's mansion form the core foundation. While the series isn't clear of flaws, there are standalone sequences that shine the most. One of them is when Harish accidentally consumes a particular drug during an experiment and gets trippy. It is probably one of the finest moments of Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo.
Despite having a premise that's exciting and ambitious, Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo loses its track mid-way. The idea to establish a story of a rivalry between Rani Ba and Monk (Deepak Dobriyal) sounds interesting on paper but the execution falters as not much attention is paid to show the clash. Leaving the action sequences alone, there's a lack of thrill and edgy moments in the second half of the series. With twists wrapped in twists in the finale episode, Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo gets a rushed conclusion. The journey to the big reveal is scattered, uneven and sometimes even confusing. There are characters that appear randomly in the show with no head or tail, which indirectly adds to the chaos. There's a hint at a sequel coming up and we hope the unanswered questions are considered.
Dimple Kapadia is brilliant as the badass drug lord of Kutch who has a heart of gold. Empowering women through her business, she allows them to lead an independent life. When she's not dealing with her family matters, Rani Ba is kicking the ball out of the park with her mean and unapologetic side. Without Dimple, Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo would be incomplete. Isha Talwar shines as Bijli. More than just being the accountant of Rani Ba's business, she's the most mature and sane member of the clan. With a secret to guard, Bijli is a calm, composed yet strong-headed woman who knows when and how to take charge of her life. Angira Dhar does a good job, especially in the finale episode. Radhika Madan is earnest in her portrayal of Shanta.
Ashish Verma is excellent as Harish. He gets the most fun character to play and stays impactful throughout with his buffoonery. Varun Mitra is perfect as Kapil and brings alive the character graph brilliantly. Udit Arora is strikingly impressive as Dheeman whereas Deepak Dobriyal goes unrecognisable as the Monk. Naseeruddin Shah is sadly underutilised. Jimit Trivedi's cop avatar is likeable but it required more depth. Monica Dogra impresses in her brief role.
With some misses and some hits, Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is thoroughly entertaining and there's no doubt. Even with a rushed and uneven second half, it doesn't harm. With the hope of a better and more promising sequel, you can catch up on the series for sure.
PeepingMoon gives Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo 3 Moons